For my birthday, I had one of the most intense, visceral, memorable food experiences of my life: a roasted pig's head at Jonathon Sawyer's Greenhouse Tavern. That night, I couldn't even bring myself to Instagram the thing, that's how disturbing it looked. Underneath a thick layer of charred skin that was most definitely face-shaped was the most incredibly tender and smoky pork I've ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth.
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And yet. My favorite thing about that Greenhouse Tavern experience was our server. I didn't take a picture of him. I don't remember his name. But if I could, I'd hire him to start a school for instructing others in the fine art (yes, art) of waiting tables.His approach was refreshing and honest. The dude wore the black T-shirt-and-jeans uniform the place requires, and he was covered in tattoos and piercings. He took his job super seriously, but at the same time not too seriously. He was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and specials, but walked us through everything in what felt like a very natural way.A lot of servers will recite the specials and menu highlights like it's a Shakespearean monologue. Not our guy. He took his time, spending a good 10 minutes on the food alone, offering suggestions on his favorite dishes and answering questions as we had them. He explained uncommon ingredients or techniques in a way that felt insidery but not pretentious or snobbish. He never strayed from talking shop, though, it was all about the food and drink.I don't know where he learned it, but he somehow found the exact perfect sweet spot in between insufferably snooty white-tablecloth service and its overly chatty, overly casual counterpart. Against all odds, he made our dinner experience feel like a conversation with a good buddy. At the end of the meal, I wanted to invite him out to grab a beer. I refrained. But I kind of wish I hadn't.